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Work and Play

New friends see this place with new eyes. They pose the questions we no longer ask, having received only silence decades before.

I made a new friend when I went to the Hollywood Climate Summit, a woman, a year difference in age. After our intergenerational panel and a quick discussion, I told her she should come visit.

And this week she came. An actress with decades of work you have seen in sitcoms and dramas, including Saturday Night Live and stints on the Johnny Carson Show.

As we traveled together these last few days, it was remarkable to see people “think” they knew her and actually say, “you look so familiar,” familiar because she has been on their TVs in their living rooms often enough to almost seem part of their families.

Friday morning, at Tar Creek she gathered with our team of teams set to take down the child-made dams, and clear the culverts to allow Tar Creek to flow free again. The work would be physical and tiring but we were motivated by the new MOM who had joined us, Mimi Kennedy, who plays that role in the comedy series. So, the MOMS of our group lined up and the force of the women and our relationship with water, how we carry our children within us, in water and feed the future generations with our very blood.

There were daughters with Moms and men, young and older who came to the water to work. We lifted debris to reveal the rock structures. Then the heavy lifting began. Some rocks could be turned and removed swiftly to the creek bottom, others heaving took sets of hands and leverage to give them the push needed to splash them back to their watery space.

Around the circle that morning, fresh and most without breakfast, introductions were quick, with LEAD’s latest Youth Activist followed by one of our first, Tyler who brought the memory of beloved Mr. Rogers, known for the comfortable sweater to our attention. Mr. Rogers often spoke insightful words, and has explained how: “Play is really the work of childhood,” and what we were about to do would take down the work done by children during the long days of this hot summer. We would stand where they had stood and handle their rocks, one by one and take apart their work.

Before we had finished, we were sets of teams, who could almost anticipate our next move. And together we experienced the celebration as the waters rushed past, no longer needing us at all.

With our morning’s work completed, the deeds accomplished, we knew more dams lay waiting to be de-constructed and rocks lain again to provide habitat we long to have return.

Words spoken by Mimi at the start of our day quoted Masaru Emoto, “Water we are Sorry. Water please forgive us. Water we thank you. Water we love you.”

Polluted water isn’t always easy to love, but I felt the love for the water that morning.

All work and no play…

I have often read, or asked others to read aloud Olive Sullivan’s poem, We Start as Water, to begin our focus on water, but that day, we also ended with Olive’s work, at a performance of The Pocket Guide to Desert Survival in the Pittsburg, Kansas auditorium on the front row with Mimi, her husband and daughter, the newest Tar Creek Protectors.

Water we love you.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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